Phillies on cruise control in victory over winless Astros

HOUSTON -- No matter who steps to the plate for the Philadelphia Phillies these days, something good seems likely to happen.

Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth drove in three runs apiece, and the Phillies' offense rolled again Saturday night in a 9-6 win over Houston that sent the Astros to their worst start in 27 years.

The Phillies finished with 11 hits and have reached double digits in their first five games for the first time since 1926. Philadelphia leads the majors with 41 runs and is hitting .337.

"It just seems like every time you come up, there's a guy in scoring position," said Howard, who has opened the season with a five-game hitting streak. "It's contagious."

Jamie Moyer (1-0), baseball's oldest player at 47, became the sixth-oldest pitcher to appear in a game and the eighth-oldest to start one in four decades. He allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings.

Moyer knows the Phillies can't keep up this kind of offensive production forever. He tried to focus on his own job, even after his team staked him to a 4-0 lead by the third inning.

"I don't really try to go out and think about what my offense is going to do," said Moyer, who leads active pitchers with 259 career wins. "I think I've got a big enough chore to try to pitch and pitch effectively. If I can go out and put zeros up, it doesn't put as much emphasis on them having to score seven, eight, nine runs a game."

Jason Michaels and Hunter Pence homered off Moyer for the Astros, who are 0-5 for the first time since the 1983 team lost its first nine games. Houston snapped a streak of 13 scoreless innings, then was shut out in five straight on Saturday night before Michaels drove in a run in the ninth.

But the Astros were blanked in two of their first four games, so manager Brad Mills saw progress from his sputtering offense.

"It was a big step forward," he said. "It was nice to see them put together some solid at-bats again and start scoring some runs."

Moyer left with the Phillies down 5-4, but they regained the lead in the seventh against Brandon Lyon (0-1).

Chase Utley drew a two-out walk before Howard hammered a 2-1 pitch off the facade in left-center for his third homer of the season. Three straight singles by Werth, Raul Ibanez and Victorino made it 7-5.

The way the bats are working for Philly, no deficit seems too big to overcome.

"We know we can score runs, we know we can come back," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We just play the whole game out. As long as we do that, we'll be OK."

Werth singled and Victorino homered in the ninth off Astros closer Matt Lindstrom. Houston scored its last run in the ninth off Ryan Madson.

Howard led off the second inning with a triple to left off Felipe Paulino. The ball banged off the metal scoreboard and ricocheted off left fielder Carlos Lee's shoulder. Athletic trainer Nate Lucero and manager Brad Mills jogged out to check on Lee, but he stayed in the game.

Werth followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center for a 1-0 lead.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the third, and Paulino walked in a run when he missed high and away with a 3-2 pitch to Howard. Werth then lined a two-run double to the left-field corner, prompting early boos from the home crowd.

Moyer retired his first eight batters before Paulino doubled off the right-field wall, his second career hit.

Michaels drove Moyer's next pitch into the left-field seats, the Astros' first home run of the season. Jeff Keppinger walked before Pence tied it 4-all with a homer to left.

The Astros loaded the bases and took their first lead of the season when Placido Polanco bobbled Tommy Manzella's sharp grounder to third, allowing Lee to score on the infield single.

Game notes
Phillies closer Brad Lidge allowed four runs and three hits for Class-A Clearwater against Dunedin, his first rehab outing since elbow surgery. Lidge threw 20 pitches and retired only two batters. Left-hander J.C. Romero, also coming off elbow surgery, threw a scoreless inning in the same game with two strikeouts. ... The Astros and Phillies wore throwback uniforms commemorating the first regular-season game played at the Houston Astrodome, on April 12, 1965. Philadelphia won that one 2-0. ... All-Star slugger Lance Berkman will skip Houston's first road trip to get more treatment on his injured left knee. The team said Berkman will work with physical therapist Matt Holland in Houston while the Astros visit St. Louis and Chicago next week. Berkman had arthroscopic surgery on March 13 and has been on the disabled list since March 31.